Does retail sell security short? Readers split on value of stores

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

YARMOUTH, Maine—Selling home security at retail stores is one of the hottest trends in the industry. Comcast, AT&T and Lowe’s are among the big players doing it, and some smaller companies are carving a niche there as well. But the majority of SSN poll respondents see it as something else: a fad that won’t be supported in the long run by customers.

Fifty-one percent of readers who participated in the June News Poll said their companies aren’t interested in selling security at retail outlets. Many of those respondents were critical of the approach being used by the new market entrants, saying it was simplistic at best and possibly even dangerous for do-it-yourself homeowners.

“What happens when these box stores send someone home with a system that does not meet their needs or isn’t connected properly?” one reader asked. “If retail is the wave of the future then I guess we’ll need to get on board, but I’ll hold on to the traditional sales model as long as it remains successful.”

“When you include the added number of false trips generated by each do-it-yourselfer, the response time of trained emergency personnel will suffer for the rest of us,” wrote J.P. Jones, a security consultant at Springfield, Mo.-based Atlas Security. “Should the central stations have an ‘A’ class of dispatch for professional installations and a ‘B’ class of dispatch for the rest?”

“Each system needs to be custom to the client if it is to truly secure the home—not a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all solution,” another reader said.

Not everyone was so bearish on retail security. Thirteen percent of poll respondents said they already sell products at a company store, while 36 percent said they were considering it.

“For the do-it-yourselfer, this is a no-brainer,” a reader wrote. “The technology is straightforward and fairly easy to apply. The days of massive amounts of wire and large control panels are on their way out for a large segment of residential systems.”

“We are opening a company store ‘with a twist’ in the fall,” said Craig Wohl, owner of CW Security Service of Dublin, Pa. “This was something I was thinking about for seven or eight years, but I didn’t think the technology was far enough along yet.”

“We don’t have a store, but I think it is a great idea,” another respondent said. “Many customers will go to them to check out products, just like they flock to home and garden shows. I think the companies that offer this will have a leg up on the competition.”

For those who believe that retail security has a future, 69 percent said the knowledgeable staff at professional security companies would give them an advantage over their big-box competitors.

“Too many of the big-box stores see this as just another added sale,” a reader wrote.

Sixty-two people participated in the poll.